Some of the inner workings behind the decision to fund LENR research at NASA have now been revealed. There are no great shock-waves and no-one should get carried away into seeing things that are not there or implied. Even so, in answering Keith Cowing’s questions (published on the NASAWatch site) Dennis Bushnell and Joe Zawodny clarify a few important points. Funding is modest but useful at under $1m so far. The decision to fund was subject to internal peer-review and NASA HQ is briefed on progress. My guess is that the latter is just par for the course and we should avoid jumping to conclusions. While it is too much to assume HQ cheer-leading (if they were, I expect serious money would flow) but given the contentious arena where most scientists still consider the field junk science, this is significant. No-one can now deny that LENR research is real science.
It is easy to shout down the efforts of a few maverick’s but that becomes ever harder when the leading edge of those brave and smart enough to look into the glass includes credible institutions such as NASA’s Glen and Langley RCs. Tiny steps but important science and a huge leap for LENR politics and potential future funding.
[With thanks to Daniel Maris]
Update: First impressions point to an awareness drive from the Langley Research Centre. Thanks to Frost in the eCatNews comments section, we learn that Dennis Bushnell, LaRC’s chief scientist, has also posted on LENR in what appears to be a coordinated effort. After summarising his position, he calls for resources to be allocated to the study of the field. This is another indication that Joe Zawodny’s video has official backing. How deep that goes we have yet to learn but, in my opinion, the double tap is significant.
Bushnell’s post is here.
End Of Update
The methodical march of real science can be painstakingly slow, with dead ends and disappointments spanning years before someone makes a breakthrough – if at all. If or when LENR becomes a widespread and accepted fact, that will change as an increasing number of bright minds and shiny toys lend themselves to the task and make up for the relative paucity of researchers working in the field at present. Meanwhile, it is pretty cool when we get a glimpse behind the scenes. Joe Zawodny of NASA has given us just that in a new video, employing cautious language couched in terms of genuine hope and potential. (Posted yesterday, it looks recent, but I am not sure when the video was made).
No matter your position on the Widom Larsen theory, you have to applaud any credible effort to test it. It seems that Zawodny has developed a method for running parallel samples in a way that does more than increase the number of data points. By comparing one section of the experiment to its neighbor, analysis becomes comparative, the delta less prone to error than the absolute.
We all love to read the tealeaves to figure out what’s happening on the other side of the curtain. The video edit tends to cut from a show-and-tell to a sudden ‘what-if’ vision of the future. I cannot help but wonder what was in between. The public claim appears to be modest (we are testing a theory that may or may not be true) but the sober minds have to tread a fine line. If they did not believe there was strong evidence for LENR (Zawodny specifically refers to this in the video) they would have no hope of getting NASA’s support. That LaRC continues the research and puts its signature to a deliberately public-facing narrative says more than the brightest sceptic can ever manage.
There is value in tough review but it only goes so far. In citing such criticism in the video, Zawodny is indirectly offering critics partial credit for inspiring the experiment’s design. Without peer review, sloppy work can pass unchallenged. However, when an experienced scientist spends as much time on a negative campaign as a hands-on researcher does in making things happen, we have to wonder at motive. Such a campaign begins to look more like lobbying than science. A common argument says that we should look at the meat of any critique and not at its source but that is an oversimplification. No critic has brought down the LENR house of cards but merely points out (obsessively) that proof has not yet been delivered. Fair enough. It is easy to pick holes and not so easy to make things happen in the real world. Zawodny and his like are putting their careers on the line while some anonymous critics attack anything positive that surfaces from their labs. Popeye’s points (whoever he is) are incisive and worth reading but while he is making his view heard on this site with astonishing regularity, remember that progress at the LENR coal face and the voices coming from it will be more measured and infrequent. The volume of argument is not a measure of its weight.
Meanwhile, evidence for LENR is growing. I suggest we pay careful attention to Zawodny and the guys who are actually trying to make things happen even if they are often too busy to talk and each step on the journey is measured by the calendar and not per post.
[With thanks to Frost]